Ukraine war: Finland and Sweden ‘meet every NATO requirement’, says Biden as he meets leaders

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Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is seen behind a glass during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 18, 2022.

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

The Ukraine war has now entered its 84th day. Thousands of civilians and soldiers have been killed, while millions of Ukrainians have fled their country. Fighting inside the country continues to rage. 

Follow our live updates on the Ukraine war below or watch Euronews in the video player above.

14:42Is Olaf Scholz right to say Ukraine’s EU membership should not be fast-tracked?08:13

Thursday’s key points 

    Prosecutors have asked for a life sentence for Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin, 21, during the first war crimes trial in Ukraine. He has asked for ‘forgiveness’ from the widow of Oleksandr Shelipov, the unarmed man he has pleaded guilty to shooting dead.Moscow says it will only consider opening Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for food exports if sanctions against Russia are reviewed. The UN has warned the Russian blockade threatens to bring mass hunger and famine.Russia says 1,730 Ukrainian fighters from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol have surrendered since Monday. They face an uncertain fate after Moscow sent them to a penal colony.President Biden has welcomed the leaders of Sweden and Finland to the White House, hailing their applications to join NATO.This comes despite opposition from Turkey. President Erdogan said on Thursday Ankara will reject the Nordic countries’ membership claims.German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said he is not in favour of granting Ukraine a “shortcut” to join the EU, echoing comments by France’s President Macron. Kyiv has blasted “second-class treatment” and “strategic ambiguity” that “emboldens Putin”.European lawmakers have moved to boost Ukraine’s war-torn economy by suspending import duties from the country. MEPs have also passed a resolution calling for former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to be blacklisted over his refusal to cut ties with Russia.


Biden meets leaders of NATO aspirants Finland and Sweden 

President Joe Biden on Thursday welcomed the leaders of Sweden and Finland to the White House, as he hailed the applications of the once-neutral countries to join NATO.

Biden greeted Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland at the White House as they met for trilateral conversations on the NATO mutual defense pact as well as broader European security concerns.

His administration has professed optimism for their applications to join the alliance, which would mark a significant embarrassment to Russia, despite continued opposition from Turkey.

“They meet every NATO requirement and then some,” he said. “Having two new NATO members in the high north will enhance the security of our alliance.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that the alliance stop expanding toward Russia’s borders.

Several NATO allies, led by the United States and Britain, have signaled that they stand ready to provide security support to Finland and Sweden should the Kremlin try to provoke or destabilize them during the time it takes to become full members.



MEPs demand sanctions on Schröder over Russian ties

MEPs have passed a resolution calling for Gerhard Schröder to be blacklisted, in a non-binding but symbolic vote.

The former German Chancellor became deeply linked to Russia’s state-owned energy companies after leaving office and his close relationship with Vladimir Putin has also been a source of controversy.

Unlike other politicians he has refused to sever his ties, saying “I don’t do mea culpa”.

More from Jorge Liboreiro of Euronews Brussels Bureau:

MEPs demand sanctions on Schröder over his ties with Russian firms

Gerhard Schröder still holds positions at Rosneft, Russia’s leading oil company, and Nord Stream AG. #EuropeNews


Ukraine FM blasts ‘second-class treatment’ after Scholz EU comments

This was Dmytro Kuleba’s response on Twitter after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz poured cold water on Ukraine being given a “short-cut” to European Union membership.

The German Chancellor said giving Kyiv quicker access would be unfair on countries in the Western Balkans, who have been waiting years to join.


Ukraine says Mariupol evacuation continues but gives no details

A Ukrainian general said on Thursday the evacuation of Ukrainian troops from the city of Mariupol was continuing but provided no details.

“In the Mariupol direction, measures are being taken to evacuate our heroes,” Oleksiy Gromov, Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Department of the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, told an online briefing.

Moscow said on Thursday that 1,730 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered in Mariupol over three days, including 771 in the past 24 hours. If true, this represents a surrender on a far bigger scale than Kyiv has acknowledged.

The Ukrainians face an uncertain fate after Moscow sent them to a penal colony.

(with Reuters)


Prosecutor requests life imprisonment for Russian war crimes soldier

The Ukrainian prosecutor’s office on Thursday demanded life imprisonment, the maximum sentence, for the first Russian soldier on trial for war crimes in Kyiv, accused of shooting a civilian in late February.

Speaking on the second day of the trial, the prosecutor asked the court to impose “a life sentence of deprivation of liberty” for 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin, according to an AFP journalist in the courtroom.

Earlier in the day, the soldier “asked for forgiveness” from Kateryna Shelipova, the widow of Oleksandr Shelipov, the 62-year-old man he has admitted killing.



Lithuanian man jailed for saying ‘Ukraine should be nuked’ on Facebook

A man in Lithuania has been jailed after he heaped praise on Putin over Facebook and called on Russia to attack the Baltics, LRT reports. 

The man was sentenced to 60 days of arrest for waxing lyrical about the Russian leader on a Facebook live-stream, as well as advocating dropping nuclear weapons on Ukraine. 

He was sentenced for inciting hatred against Lithuanians, Ukrainians and Roma on the social media platform, according to a press release by the Kaunas District Court in Lithuania. 

The man, named only as A. D., called for violence against “the people of Lithuania and Ukraine, […] glorified the aggression of the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the killing of people in Ukraine”, adding that “Ukraine should be nuked,” the press release read. 

He also said he would “shoot half of the Lithuanians himself” and asked Russia “to attack Lithuania and to destroy Lithuanians.”

The man has eight previous convictions, including theft and violence against his spouse and partner. 


UK freezes Russian airlines assets, preventing multi-million sale 

Three Russian airlines have had their assets frozen by the UK, stopping them from selling landing slots at the country’s airports worth up to £50 million ($62 million). 

The UK’s latest sanctions prevent Russia’s largest carrier, the state-owned Areoflot, and Ural Airlines from transferring valuable landing rights for their planes. 

These pricey plots of land are currently going unused as Russian aircraft are currently banned from flying into the UK. 

The UK Foreign Office hopes wide-ranging international sanctions on Russia will pressure President Vladimir Putin into pulling out of Ukraine. 

“As long as Putin continues his barbarous assault on Ukraine, we will continue to target the Russian economy,” UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement. “We’ve already closed our airspace to Russian airlines.

“Today, we’re making sure they can’t cash in their lucrative landing slots at our airports,” she added.

Russia’s economy is forecast to shrink this year by as much as 15 per cent, with oil exports – a key source of government income – down by almost 30 per cent in April. 

Read more about the economic consequences of sanctions on Russia below. 

Russian economy suffers sanctions blow despite Kremlin’s denial


Russia will only open Ukraine’s ports for much-needed food exports if sanctions are reviewed 

Russia’s foreign ministry has said it will only consider opening up Ukraine’s Black Sea ports – and so alleviate pressure on global food supplies – if sanctions against it are reviewed. 

As the Interfax news agency reports, Russian deputy foreign minister, Andrei Rudenko, said: “You have to not only appeal to the Russian Federation but also look deeply at the whole complex of reasons that caused the current food crisis.

“In the first instance, these are the sanctions that have been imposed against Russia by the US and the EU that interfere with normal free trade, encompassing food products including wheat, fertilisers and others,” he added. 

Rudenko’s comments follow an appeal by United Nations food chief David Beasley to Vladimir Putin that millions would die around the world because of the Russian blockade of Black Sea ports.

“If you have any heart at all for the rest of the world, regardless of how you feel about Ukraine, you need to open up those ports,” said Beasley, addressing the Russian president directly. 

The UN World Food Programme feeds approximately 125 million every year and buys 50 per cent of its grain from Ukraine. 

Ukraine is among the top five global exporters of several vital agricultural products, including corn, wheat and barley, as well as being a key exporter of sunflower and meal. 

UN head, António Guterres, echoed these warning earlier on Thursdat, saying that food shortages caused by the Ukraine conflict could cause global “hunger and famine.”

(AP, Reuters)


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